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This article was published 18/3/2015 (2378 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Having been burned twice by the San Jose Sharks this season, the Winnipeg Jets left nothing to chance on Tuesday night at the MTS Centre.
This time, there were no early season jitters and too much respect (Game 2 of the season, a 3-0 loss) or a missed call on a pick play that keyed a San Jose winning goal with five seconds to play (Game 40 on Jan. 5, a 3-2 defeat).
This time, the Jets blazed from the gate with three goals in the first 13 minutes and cruised to a 5-2 decision over the Sharks, leap-frogging back into a Western Conference playoff spot with a 35-23-12 record, 82 points in 70 games.
The decision dropped the Sharks six points back. San Jose is fifth in the Pacific Division and still eyeing one of the three berths there.
Undermanned still -- the Jets skated again without top centre Bryan Little, sniper Mathieu Perreault, and defencemen Ben Chiarot and Dustin Byfuglien -- the home team again showed an ability to plug and play in ways that get the job done.
"You're worried about the game back after a trip, but I wasn't as concerned about that because of the situation that all teams are in at this time of year," said Jets coach Paul Maurice. "And then we got some pucks to the net.
"And the power play really moved the puck very, very well. Real good shots. (Mark) Scheifele's shot is spectacular."
Winnipeg connected on both its power plays in the first, on goals by Scheifele, his 12th of the season, and Andrew Ladd's 24th, a tip-in that made it 3-0.
The Jets started Ondrej Pavelec in goal in consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 20 and 23.
He won them both, Tuesday night with 38 saves as the Sharks started firing everything his way after falling behind 3-0 and being outshot 10-7 in the first.
"The same game that he played in Tampa," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "And the same game that he played in St. Louis. He was just aggressive trying to find pucks. He was fighting. The Tampa Bay game was a big game because of what happened. When he got through that game with the win, his confidence has to be high and strong and it was an easy decision to come back with him.
"Pav came off the bench in a difficult game, saw a lot of action and had a terrible thing happen to him. And then showed all the toughness you need to know about a man in that game in Tampa."
Buff held out
Byfuglien took Tuesday's morning skate and looked good.
But he was a surprise absence from the pre-game warm-up and missed a fifth straight game because of an upper-body injury suffered against Ottawa on March 4.
"He was ready to go," Maurice said. "He got through the morning skate, but sometimes you've got to pull a guy back a bit. I didn't think it was the right time for him to come in. Also, you put two (injured) guys in at the same time... you've got healthy guys. We want to be sure with Dustin that when he comes back in, he doesn't go back out."
Back to respectable
The Jets' penalty killing is back to respectable, shutting off San Jose's fifth-ranked power play in all three of its attempts on Tuesday night.
In the last 10 games, the Jets have gone 26 for 29 in this area (89.7 per cent) and more importantly, have started to limit their infraction.
Winnipeg still leads the NHL by a wide margin in times short-handed, but in the last 10 games has given three or fewer opportunities to opponents in eight of those contests, a marked improvement from earlier days.
The Jets drove Sharks' starter Antti Niemi from the game in just 13:01.
It started badly for Niemi when Adam Lowry scored from behind the goal line just 70 seconds in. Niemi failed to hug the post tightly enough and Lowry's hard wrister dropped down his pad and across the red line.
The goalie had little chance on shots by Mark Scheifele and then Andrew Ladd's deflection but coach Todd McLellan decided on the change after three goals on just eight shots.